By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest has emphasised that he does not believe any Family Island affected by Hurricane Joaquin should be abandoned.
Instead, he said, stakeholders should consider how to rebuild infrastructure on the Family Islands in a way that would mitigate potential damage arising from global warming. His statement came as he sought to clarify comments he made earlier this week on the matter.
At the FNM headquarters on Tuesday, Mr Turnquest was asked by The Tribune to respond to suggestions from some that it may not be in the country’s long-term interest to focus costly recovery efforts on rebuilding islands that may prove particularly susceptible to climate change’s harsh impact.
Although he said at the time that “all sensible people would want to consider those kinds of things,” he did not endorse the idea of abandoning Family Islands.
Nonetheless, many interpreted his comments as a call not to rebuild devastated Family Island communities.
Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Bradley Roberts released a statement yesterday calling such a move a “non-starter”.
Mr Turnquest’s comments were similar to ones made by Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis during the tail end of the government’s assessment tour on Tuesday of some of the southern islands left devastated by the category four storm.
Mr Davis said despite being a difficult subject, the government needs to consider the “resettlement” of some Family Islands as the country is now faced with a massive rebuilding effort following the storm.
Mr Davis, who is also the minister of works and urban development, said the realities that prompted the development plans of most Family Islands no longer exist.
“I think the time has come for us to start the conversations about resettlement of some of these Family Islands to make it more affordable for our government to provide (the basic infrastructure) ... instead of having to duplicate so very often,” he said on Tuesday. “Just flying over the settlements before I landed so many things were running through my mind. (I asked myself), what would have informed communities to be created in manner in which they have?”
Mr Davis used the example of Salina Point and Lovely Bay in Acklins, noting that the island’s two most populated settlements are roughly 56 miles apart.
Between those areas there are four to five scattered settlements with no more than 100 people living in each.
Mr Davis said: “Yet we still have the obligation as a government to provide them with all the services that the people in New Providence have. So I think the time has come for the conversation to at least start to talk about resettlement. I was reminded this morning (Tuesday) that following the (Great Nassau Hurricanes)…. most of the settlements in Rum Cay were abandoned and everyone just settled into one settlement.”